How To Paint A Radiator

By Sam Wood •  Updated: 10/08/21 

Painting a radiator can really bring it back to life and brighten up the entire room. It can be a tricky job however. And long streaky paint runs are a common sight on poorly painted radiators. Luckily for you though I have a complete step by step guide that makes achieving a flawless finish a breeze.

Step By Step Guide

Spray Paint

We will start this guide with spray paint. If you want the easiest way to achieve a perfect finish then I would definitely recommend that you use spray paint.

Specialist spray radiator paints are available and that is what I used. This is not cheap though, the can cost me £8 and only did a single radiator.

Step 1 – Clean Using Sugar Soap

Before we do anything else we need to give the radiator a good clean. I like to use sugar soap as it helps to remove any grease from the radiator.

Sugar Soap
Sugar Soap

Step 2 – Sand The Radiator

Now that we have removed the bulk of the dirt and grime it is time to give the radiator a sanding.

Use a high grit paper for this, I used 240 grit. You don’t want to gouge the existing paint as this will be hard to cover. That is why we use high grit paper.

Sand The Radiator
Sand The Radiator

Step 3 – Clean Again

Now that we have sanded the radiator down we need to clean it again. This is to remove all of the dust caused by the sanding.

This will be the final cleaning before we paint the radiator, so make sure you get everything off.

Spray Down The Radiator Again
Spray Down The Radiator Again

Step 4 – Turn The Radiator Off

You don’t want the radiator to be hot when painting so make sure it is turned off. If you are not sure what all of the symbols on your radiator mean then have a look at my guide!

Turn Your Radiator Off
Turn Your Radiator Off

Step 5 – Shake The Spray Can

Before using the spray paint we need to give it a vigorous shake for two minutes. While this does seem trivial it is important that you do it.

Adorable toddler not essential.

Shake The Paint
Shake The Paint

Step 6 – Paint… Finally

Now after all this prep work it is finally time to do some actual painting. In all painting jobs, it is often the prep work that takes the most time.

Good prep work however massively increases the overall finish level of your painting. Put the effort into the prep work and the results will speak for themselves.

You want to hold the can 20-30cm away from the radiator and always keep it moving as you paint.

Begin Spraying
Begin Spraying

Apply a thin coat. You are not trying to get this all done in one go, if you do you will definitely end up with runs in the paint.

In the end, it took me three coats to properly finish my radiator so don’t worry if it is not looking perfect after a single coat.

After One Coat
After One Coat

Here you can clearly still see the bare metal through the paint. But no need to panic, just add more coats!

Step 7 – Paint a second coat

Let the paint fully dry and then apply a second coat of paint. The radiator paint I was using dries really quickly, fully dry within an hour, so I didn’t have to wait around for long.

If you have ended up with any runs in your paint then now is a good time to sand them out. Use high grit paper, 240 and above, and sand them level. Make sure you clean up all the dust before painting.

After Two Coats
After Two Coats

Now you can see the radiator after two coats of paint. Still not perfect but getting there. I added a third and final coat to finish the radiator off.

The amount of coats used is completely up to you, just add the paint lightly and keep going until you achieve the finish you desire.

Before
Finished
After

Sam Wood

Wood by name, wood by nature. I am a fully qualified, time-served, award-winning joiner with an NVQ Level 3 in Carpentry and Joinery as well as an HNC in Construction. Beyond my joinery qualifications, I have also earned a degree in building surveying. I believe these qualifications make me perfectly positioned to provide expert advice on many different areas of DIY as well as share all of the tips I have picked up in over a decade working on building sites!